The Factor is a good climbing bike, and strikes up an interesting proposition. If you've got a remote lockout, then it would be great to really utilize it and have a very very soft open
mode, for ultimate traction, a middle mode for descending, and then the lock out for road section. However, I never really felt I could get the grip or tracking from the bike that I wanted. It's efficient, but I would argue too much so.
The claimed anti-squat of around 90% at sag for the lowest gears just didn't add up for me and it raises an interesting point - anti-squat values are just often harder to pin down and quantify than is ideal. The height of the rider's center of gravity, plus other factors, can easily throw it out. Before looking into it, I would have thought this bike had values of over 100%. There is an important note though - this is compared to other bikes that are limited by the same inconsistencies. So maybe the Factor numbers are correct, and other brands are a little out. Either way, I would have liked a lower value and better tracking for technical climbs.
For those that do want a firmer feeling XC bike, this does do a great job at giving that; I'm just not sure how that fits in with it comfortable marathon bike. It feels racier than that. It's a bike for turning a big gear at pace and using its speed and drive to get over rougher sections, rather than cruising and managing to seek out grip.
That then bleeds into compliance. It was hard to say exactly, but it felt like the 1450g Black Inc Twenty Seven wheels were a little too stiff for me. On bigger hits or chunkier terrain, it felt like there was enough flex in the frame to generate some comfort but on higher frequency bumps on seated traverses or fire roads, even when not pedaling, I felt like it could do more to cope with small bumps and stop the rider from feeling so rattled. Like I said, I can't say for certain, but that would be might first point of call if I was looking at dialing in the spec for some more comfort.
The bike, when up to speed, does do a good job of holding its momentum through corners and switchbacks, no doubt thanks to that low front end. Leaning into turns while climbing, and cranking hard is a gratifying experience on any XC bike, but the Factor goes forward with such purpose it makes it particularly enjoyable. The 60 mm stem and 760 mm far felt good to me, too, and felt low without being uncomfortable or unstable.